The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Health & Family

January 31, 2013

Early rising helps kids handle days better

JOPLIN, Mo. — Does it matter whether your child is a morning person? It might be more important than you think. There's no denying that a good night's sleep is critical to your children's success in school, but whether they spring out of bed at the crack of dawn or prefer sleeping late into the morning also can play a role in how they function during the day, according to Missy Heilbrun, a Project Hope counselor with Joplin Schools.

"The kids that are sleepy, like they just rolled out of bed, have trouble keeping their attention. They don't have the best attitude, and they're just not ready for learning," she said. "Kids who get up early ... they come to school ready to learn. They just come more prepared."

Annie Nawab, director of the sleep lab at Mercy Hospital, said several hormones related to a body's growth are released during sleep. The best way to ensure that happens is to get children to bed early at night and up early in the morning, she said.

"Early to bed and early to rise does affect the overall well-being of the child, so this is not only an old wives' tale," she said.

According to Forbes magazine, people who wake up early are more likely to:

  • Earn better grades. In a 2008 Texas University study, college students who identified themselves as morning people earned a full point higher on their GPAs than those who were night owls (3.5 vs. 2.5).
  • Be more proactive. Early risers are more likely to agree with statements such as "I feel in charge of making things happen," according to Harvard biologist Christoph Randler.
  • Anticipate problems. Randler's research revealed that morning people are more likely to anticipate and minimize problems efficiently.
  • Be better planners. Early risers often use their morning for organization, goal-setting and planning.
  • Find time to exercise. Many people get up early to exercise, which boosts mood and provides energy.
  • Get better sleep. If you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, your body will be more in tune with the earth's circadian rhythms.
  • Be more optimistic. Studies have shown that morning people are more likely than night owls to exhibit optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and conscientiousness.

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